Diplomatic tensions between Bangladesh and Pakistan seem to be escalating, with each government summoning the other's envoy to lodge strong protests over the execution of Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami for war crimes.
Dhaka yesterday summoned the Pakistan High Commissioner in Bangladesh for the second time in three days, about five hours after Islamabad summoned the Bangladesh envoy there.
Diplomatic sources in Dhaka see Pakistan's move as an act of retaliation for Dhaka's summoning of Pakistan High Commissioner Shuja Alam on May 9, after Islamabad made “uncalled for reactions that amount to direct interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, which is totally unacceptable”.
Mizanur Rahman, secretary (bilateral) of the foreign ministry, also handed over a “strongly worded” Note Verbale protesting the passage of a Resolution in the Pakistan National Assembly on the execution of Nizami, who was hanged early hours on Wednesday.
Yesterday, the Pakistan envoy arrived at the foreign ministry around 4:50pm and left Mizanur Rahman's office in less than 15 minutes.
Earlier, Islamabad summoned the acting high commissioner in Pakistan Nazmul Huda to its foreign ministry around 12:30pm and lodged a protest at the “unfortunate” hanging of Nizami, who opposed Bangladesh's independence during the 1971 war with Pakistan.
“Dhaka had a specific reason to summon the Pakistan envoy and hand him a protest note because Pakistan has not been acting responsibly and continues to interfere in the domestic issues of Bangladesh,” said a senior official at the foreign ministry.
Pakistan in its protest note yesterday said Nizami was hanged through a flawed judicial process.
A press statement available on the website of its foreign ministry said the attempts by Dhaka “to malign Pakistan, despite our keen desire” to develop brotherly relations with it, are regrettable.
“The 1974 Tripartite Agreement is the cornerstone of relations between the two countries. It needs to be emphasised that, as part of the Agreement, the Government of Bangladesh decided not to proceed with the trials as an act of clemency.
“Pakistan reiterates its desire for friendly relations with Bangladesh.”
In reply, the Bangladesh envoy in Islamabad said Nizami was executed after the completion of all legal process and country's highest court had pronounced the verdict, said a source in the Bangladesh Mission in Islamabad.
Nazmul Huda also conveyed the Pakistan Foreign Office that Islamabad could not interfere in internal affairs of a sovereign and independent country.
In its Note Verbale, Dhaka said that by repeatedly taking sides with the Bangladesh nationals convicted of crimes against humanity and genocide, Pakistan has once again acknowledged its direct involvement and complicity with the mass atrocity during Bangladesh's Liberation War.
“So doing, it is also relentlessly opposing Bangladesh's efforts to ensure justice and break the culture of impunity for crimes committed forty-five years ago,” it added.
Yesterday, it was made clear to the Pakistan envoy that to the people of Bangladesh Nizami was a leader of Islami Chhatra Sangha and also the head of the infamous Al-Badr militia force in 1971 which cooperated with the Pakistani occupation force in committing various crimes against humanity, including genocide.
The Pakistan envoy was also reminded that Islamabad continued to present a misleading, limited and partial interpretation of the underlying premise of the Tripartite Agreement.
"The Tripartite Agreement in no way restricted Bangladesh from prosecuting its own nationals for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
"The scope of the 1974 agreement was limited to the repatriation of 195 Pakistani war criminals and remaining Pakistani prisoners of war, and the return of the Bangalees stranded inside Pakistan," said the protest note yesterday.
It added that Pakistan had no “moral right” even to assess the independent judiciary of another country let alone term a judgment "biased, flawed and unfounded".